Voices’ Legislative Update – 1/29/18

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I am sure as you read this, you are all wondering “what on this planet could make a person like Polly McKinney happy?” Well, let me tell you, the list is long.
It contains things like:

  • dress shoes that feel like slippers,
  • a dry basement,
  • a weight loss plan that involves only candy and alcohol,
  • and knowing when the 2018 legislative session will end.

So far, only that last item has come true. The boys and girls that make up the general assembly have determined a schedule where the session ends (sine die) on March 29. Crossover Day, the last day when a bill can pass out of a chamber and still have time in the other chamber to pass before sine die, is going to be February 28. Needless to say, those slipper-like high heels and a Jolly Rancher-merlot diet would be really useful between now and then, since advocacy and lobbying at the capitol get more and more intense as we near each of those deadlines.
Oh well.
The past week had a number of joint hearings on basic policy platforms.  For those new to this stuff, “joint hearing” does not refer to hearings about marijuana (though there was one of those at the capitol as well…). Rather, it refers to hearings where the house and senate committees meet together.
They usually occur at the beginning of a session and involve subjects like the preliminary hearing of the budgets, policy baselines (like the presentation the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education did for the Education Committees on the Top Ten [Education] Issues to Watch in 2018), and the hearing the Higher Education Committees held on current sexual assault policies on college campuses. If you have finished watching The Crown and are desperate to watch anything that moves and has sound besides your significant other, you can catch videos of archived committee hearings here: House & Senate
In addition to the joint hearings, the House held hearings on the FY 2018 amended budget, things that the Child Fatality Review Panel does and knows, children’s mental health, and a few bills.
This week, however, put your seat-belts on because it is promising to be crazy busy with new legislation, old legislation and hearings in earnest.  From the looks of it, the House may even vote on the amended budget on Wednesday morning.
This is also the time of year when various groups gather on the second floor of the state house to show off their wares (meaning policy beliefs and the occasional accompanying cookie, apple or Snickers bar). Days to look forward to are:

  • Telehealth Day is this Tuesday!  A bunch of telehealth folks are going to be there — and NO – it is not just going to be a bunch of people on computer monitors, but real live people showing how that stuff works.
  • Justice Day at the Capitol on Feb 26, to tout the success of criminal justice reform in our state;
  • Crossover Day on Feb. 28, where the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN) and lots of out-of-school-time (OST) providers are going to be hanging out;
  • Get Georgia Reading Day on March 5;
  • and Children’s Day on March 7, where Voices will host a bunch of our buddies.
All that should keep you busy and the capitol parking decks full.

Anyway, check out the advocacy asks at the end of this email and I’ll see you on the flip-side.
— Polly

vulnerable youth
HB 159 (Reeves-34th) Substantially revises general provisions applicable to adoptions, including provisions regarding the following: allowing a nonresident to allow an adoption of his or her child, adoption of foreign-born children, waiver to revoke a surrender of parental rights, the age for individuals to access the Adoption Reunion Registry, and the annulment of an adoption under certain circumstances. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to include some language from a past version of HB 359, which was vetoed by the governor following the 2017 session. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Amended and PASSED SENATE. The bill now awaits House consideration again.
HB 344 (Dempsey-13th) Allows certain parties in a case concerning a child support order to request a genetic paternity test from the Department of Human Services. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 654 (Beskin-54th) Adjusts provisions involving calculations of child support payments, so that in certain circumstances the court may allow for the use of separate worksheets to show the final child support amount to be paid for all such children and the adjusted amount of support to be paid as each child becomes ineligible to receive support. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
HB 655 (Williams-145th) Requires every public school to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 668 (Price-48th) Allows a petition for guardianship to be filed for a proposed ward who is 17 years old if the petitioner has a good faith reason to believe that the child will still need a guardian upon turning 18 years old. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in the Kelley subcommittee this MONDAY.
HB 732 (Silcox-52nd) Expands the offense of trafficking an individual for sexual servitude to include individuals who pay for such servitude and solicit and pay for it from people 16 years old or older. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 745 (Holcomb-81st) Allows a tenant to terminate his/her rental or lease agreement effective 30 days after providing the landlord with a written notice of termination when a civil family violence order or criminal family violence order has been issued. The notice must be accompanied by a copy of the applicable civil or criminal family violence order. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
HB 746 (Holcomb-81st) Requires each law enforcement agency to designate at least one law enforcement officer who is trained in trauma and victim response to receive all inquiries concerning sexual assault evidence kits and to serve as a liaison between the agency and victims of sexual assault. The bill also requires the Attorney General to develop, maintain, and publicly post a document concerning the rights of victims of sexual assault, which are listed in this legislation. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
SB 131 (Tillery-19th) Requires adoption proceedings be stayed while an appeal of an order to terminate parental rights is pending until such order becomes final by the conclusion of appellate proceedings or the time limit for seeking such a review expires. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.
SB 335 (Unterman-45th) Expands the offense of trafficking an individual for sexual servitude to include individuals who pay for such servitude and solicit and pay for it from people 16 years old or older. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 336 (Unterman-45th) Provides that when a subpoena is issued for production of electronic communication service records for computer or electronic devices that are used for certain offenses against minors, the provider of the service shall not provide notice of such subpoena to the subscriber or customer of such service. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 337 (Unterman-45th) Expands acceptable testimony of a child’s description of sexual contact or physical abuse to include any motion made or hearing or trial in the past. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
juvenile justice

HB 51 Requires employees of post-secondary institutions to report suspected felony crimes committed on campus by or to students to campus law enforcement or the local law enforcement agency. PASSED HOUSE. Unlikely to move this session as a result of improvements made by USG, TCSG and Private Colleges regarding sexual assault procedures STATUS: HB 498.

HB 53 (Oliver-82nd) Raises the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from children under 17 years of age to children under 18 years of age. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.
HB 657 (Petrea-166th) Creates a felony charge and mandatory minimum of 1-5 years for anyone who knowingly and intentionally provides a firearm to someone who is on probation as a felony first offender or to any person who has been convicted of a felony in any state. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
HB 670 (Powell-32nd) Adds one legislative representative to the Georgia State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision and clarifies that the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate each makes one such appointment. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.
HB 740 (Nix-69th) Requires local school systems to conduct a vision screening, hearing screening, and a speech-language assessment (unless the student possessed a weapon, drugs, or other dangerous instrument or his/her behavior endangers the physical safety of students or school personnel) a student in kindergarten through third grade prior to expelling or suspending for five or more consecutive days. STATUS: House Education Committee.
SB 316 (Jackson-2nd) Creates added categories and penalties for the commission of hate crimes. These crimes target a victim or his or her property because of the defendant’s belief regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 326 (James-35th) Provides that prior to posting bail for a juvenile or receiving a child from the custody of DJJ, a person, adult blood relative, or stepparent shall file a sworn and notarized affidavit with the court stating that he or she has legal custody of the alleged delinquent child or that he or she is an adult blood relative or stepparent. The bill also requires a criminal history records check of those arrested to determine if the person is classified as a wanted or missing person or is reasonably believed to be subjected to labor or sexual servitude.  The bill also requires personnel rendering patient care in a hospital or related institution to receive written material on industry best practices in recognizing signs typically displayed by persons who have been or are being subjected to labor or sexual servitude, and requires the GBI to collect information which would assist in the identification of any person believed to be subjected to labor or sexual servitude. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 347 (Kirk-13th) Makes it an offense of Criminal Trespass when someone intentionally defaces, mutilates, or defiles any grave marker, monument, or memorial recognizing one or more deceased persons. The bill also makes criminal trespass upon certain military graves  punishable as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 348 (Harper-7th) Allows campus policemen and other security personnel who are regular employees of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council to have the power to make arrests for offenses committed upon any property under the jurisdiction of the TCSG and for offenses committed upon any public or private property within 500 yards of TCSG property. STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.

HB 653 (Spencer-180th) Provides that certain professional licensing boards are authorized but not required to suspend the license of a person upon notice of nonpayment or default on a federal educational loan or service conditional scholarship. This pertains particularly to those licenses issued by the authority of Georgia Composite Medical Board. STATUS: House Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 669 (Trammel-132nd) Authorizes the state to allocate appropriations to expand Medicaid and get federal funds for payments to medical providers on behalf of Medicaid recipients. STATUS: House Appropriations Committee.
HB 673 (Carson-46th) Prohibits driving while: conducting wireless communication without using a hands-free accessory, using more than a single touch or swipe of a finger on a wireless device to initiate or terminate communication; reaching for a wireless telecommunications device in such a manner that requires the driver to maneuver in such a way that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position properly restrained by a safety belt, watching motion upon the screen of a wireless telecommunications device other than those related to the functioning or navigation of the vehicle. Violation will be considered a misdemeanor and shall be punishable with a fine of at least $150.00. Upon a second offense the driver shall be required to complete a defensive driving course. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 678 (Smith-134th) Requires healthcare providers to tell patients which health insurance plans they accept before non-emergency treatment.  If they do not have an agreement with a patient’s health insurance provider, they must disclose the estimated amount the health care provider, group practice, diagnostic and treatment center, or health center will bill the patient or prospective patient for health care services when the patient asks. Information about who ancillary providers will be in the process of treatment must also be provided when asked.  Likewise, insurance providers must make accessible information which could help clients assess out-of-network costs. STATUS: House Insurance Committee. Bill will be heard in the Life and Health subcommittee this WEDNESDAY.
HB 697 (Taylor-173rd) Extends an exemption from state sales and use tax for five additional years (up to June 30, 2023) regarding the sale or use of tangible personal property to certain nonprofit health centers, including some volunteer centers which serve indigent patients. STATUS: House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 733 (Alexander-66th) Expands the service cancelable loan program for psychiatrists serving in underserved rural areas. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 743 (Clark-98th) “Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act”-Requires the GA DOE to develop and post on its publicly accessible website guidelines and relevant materials to inform and educate student, parents, guardians and coaches participating in or desiring to participate in an interscholastic athletic activity about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. Public and private schools must also hold informational meetings in the subject and parents/guardians must sign a form acknowledging that they have reviewed the information.  Protocols are also established for removing students who faint, pass out or exhibit any other symptoms possibly related to cardiac issues from participation. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 747 (Cooper-43rd) Provides that Medicaid recipients receive unrestricted access to medications prescribed for the treatment of hemophilia. STATUS: House Hopper.
HB 755 (Cannon-58th) Requires DPH to establish a three-year pilot program to provide preexposure prophylaxis drug assistance or services to persons at risk of being infected with HIV. STATUS: House Hopper.
SB 318 (Rhett-33rd) Allows for the execution of a physician’s certificate for emergency examination of a person for involuntary evaluation and treatment for mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse based on consultation with an emergency medical technician or paramedic who has personally observed the person. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 325 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Allows Georgia to join an Interstate Medical Licensure Compact which allows physicians to become licensed in multiple states. According to the bill, the Compact creates another pathway for licensure and does not otherwise change a state’s existing Medical Practice Act. It also affirms that the practice of medicine occurs where the patient is located at the time of the physician-patient encounter, and therefore, requires the physician to be under the jurisdiction of the state medical board where the patient is located. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 346 (Thompson-5th) Allows in-state cultivation of marijuana.  STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 351 (Unterman-45th) Allows advanced practice registered nurses to be eligible to engage as a licensed independent practitioner if primarily employed in a rural county in this state The bill also expands the authority for any such licensed independent practitioner to order computed tomography (CT) scans and to prescribe, procure, administer, dispense, and furnish pharmacological agents, including over-the-counter and controlled substances. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 352 (Unterman-45th) Prohibits patient brokering and creates a director of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Related Disorders (to be appointed by the governor), and establishes the Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery.  The bill also provides for a fraudulent insurance act for the excessive, high-tech, or fraudulent drug testing in the treatment of the elderly, the disabled, or any individual affected by pain, substance abuse, addiction, or any related disorder. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 357 (Burke-11th) Establishes the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia (to be assigned to the Office of Planning and Budget for administrative purposes), with a director of health care policy and strategic planning who reports directly to the Governor. STATUS: Senate Hopper.
SB 359 (Hufstetler-52nd) Establishes standards for carriers and health care providers with regard to payment under a managed care plan in the provision of emergency medical care, and lays out provisions for increased transparency regarding providers. STATUS: Senate Hopper.
SB  327 (Albers-56th) Eliminates the circumstance of death when unattended by a physician from the list of deaths that a coroner or county medical examiner can order a medical examiner’s inquiry of that death. STATUS: PASSED SENATE.

HB 494 Authorizes the use of hearsay in preliminary hearings regarding emergency closure of an early care and learning program or the emergency placement of a monitor or monitors and adds certain misdemeanors to the definition of “crime” for purposes of background checks. The bill also provides that background checks are not valid if an individual has been separated from employment from an early care and education program for more than 180 consecutive days. House Education Committee STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 524 (Teasley-37th) Creates a digital learning tax credit available for donations to eligible nonprofit organizations to be used to provide improved technology to county, municipal, and independent school districts, facilitating Internet access for student learning initiatives. STATUS: House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 667 (Bentley-139th) Prevents local boards of education from participating in an athletic association which does not provide for instant replays to review rulings on the field for high school football playoff and championship games. STATUS: House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 672 (Thomas-39th) Allows the use of speed detection devices by school security personnel, defined as a certified law enforcement officer employed by a local board of education, a county or a municipal law enforcement agency for patrol of a school. STATUS: House Motor Vehicles Committee.
HB 700 (Belton-112th) Authorizes types of service cancelable educational loans financed by state funds and issued by the Georgia Student Finance Authority in exchange for two years of service in the Georgia National Guard. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this WEDNESDAY.
HB 702 (Clark-147th) Creates a service cancelable postsecondary education loan program for students in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics who work in federal civil service positions at defense installations in this state. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.
HB 713 (Chandler-105th) Lowers eligibility requirements for homeschooled children  for the HOPE scholarship from scoring within the 93rd percentile on the ACT or SAT to having scored within the 91st percentile. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.
HB 718 (Scott-76th) Excuses a maximum of five school day absences per school year, for no more than two school years, of students with parents in service of the armed forces of the United States, the Reserves, or the National Guard or veterans to attend therapy sessions as recommended by a licensed physician or psychologist. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 722 (Casas-107th) Adds any nonprofit, baccalaureate degree granting postsecondary institution which has been in existence ten or more years with a physical location in this state and which holds institutional accreditation by a national or regional accrediting agency that is recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the United States Department of Education t the list of eligible institutions for “Move on When Ready”. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 728 (Coleman-97th) Repeals the sunset provision on the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation (which passed last year and is designed to receive private donations to be used for grants to public schools and provide for a related income tax credit for qualified education donations).  The tax credits became available January 1st this year but are scheduled to sunset December 31, 2020. STATUS: House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 739 (Williams-168th) Names the act requiring the Professional Standards Commission to adopt and implement a process for military spouses to qualify for temporary certificates or expedited certificates upon moving to the state  as the “Tracy Rainey Act”. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 744 (Shannon-84th) Exempts full-time students enrolled in postsecondary education, including those taking classes online, from jury duty. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
SB 320 (Henson-41st) Requires public elementary and secondary schools to allow parents and guardians to register to vote when enrolling their children for school. STATUS: Senate Ethics Committee.
SB 330 (Wilkinson-50th) The agricultural education program provided in this state shall be based on the nationally recognized three-component model of school based agricultural education: daily instruction in an organized classroom and lab environment; hands-on, real-world learning opportunities through the supervised agriculture experience (SAE) program; and leadership and learning opportunities through participation in the Future Farmers of America. The curriculum for the agricultural education program shall include equal portions of each of the three components of such model and shall be established by the Department of Education with input from agricultural education teachers. GA DOE will conduct a pilot program, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, for agricultural education in six elementary schools in this state in order to determine whether and how to implement an elementary agricultural education program state wide. By July 1, 2018, the Professional Standards Commission shall extend in-field certification for agricultural education to include kindergarten through grade five. STATUS: Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
SB 339 (Ligon-3rd) Requires the establishment of free speech policies for institutions of the Georgia university system, including some specific language and criteria to be used in such policies. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.
SB 355 (Hufstetler-52nd) Exempts public schools from paying the financing costs of nuclear projects and prohibits those costs from being collected from other customers. STATUS: Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
SB 354 (Jackson-2nd) Require that the Technical College System of Georgia classify certain active duty service members as in-state for tuition purposes. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 121 (Efstration-104th) Changes provisions relating to minor or unborn beneficiaries of trusts, among other things. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in the Fleming subcommittee this MONDAY.
HB 703 (Hitchens-161st) Creates the Governor’s Office of Public Safety Support (assigned to the Department of Public Safety for administrative purposes ). This office would provide counseling services or any other critical incident support services to all requesting public entities that employ public safety officers for incidents, including situations involving death or other tragedies. Counseling services would be for public safety officers or their immediate families. The Governor appoints the director. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
HB 716 (Rakestraw-19th) “Georgia Pre-Arrest Diversion for Drug and Mental Health Treatment Act”- Persons desiring treatment for drug or alcohol abuse or dependence or mental health issues may contact a law enforcement agency for information and about and referral to treatment programs for abusers of drugs or alcohol or persons with mental health issues.  Any person who in good faith contacts a law enforcement agency for information as to available treatment programs, assisted delivery to a program, or a referral shall not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for a drug violation resulting solely from the seeking of such information or assisted delivery. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 721 (Powell-32nd) Revises the criteria by which the Department of Driver Services authorizes licensed driver training schools to administer the on-the-road driving skills testing. STATUS: House Motor Vehicles Committee.
HR 913 (Rakestraw-19th) Creates the House Study Committee on Incorporating Law Enforcement in the Pathway to Treatment and Social Services for Persons Having Challenges with Drug Use and Mental Health. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
SB 343 (Harbison-15th) Prohibits the issuance and renewal of drug recognition expert certifications by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.
SB 344 (Thompson-5th) “Georgia Retail Marijuana Code”- allows the regulation of the retail sale of marijuana. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SR 613 (Shafer-48th) Constitutional Amendment making English the official language of the State of Georgia, and requires official state actions be in English, drivers license exams to be in English, and prohibits discrimination, penalties, or other limits on participation against persons who speak only English. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.
SR 614 (Thompson-5th) Constitutional Amendment legalizing marijuana for those 21 years of age or older. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.